Road trips with young children

Tips and Tricks for Road Trips with Young Children

Posted on November 28, 2018 : Posted in Legacy Academy, Parenting Tips

Road trips with young children Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Holidays often mean travel, and if you’re on a tight budget or your family isn’t too far away, you’ll likely be traveling by car. Road trips with young children are a daunting endeavor, but with the right attitude and planning, they can be much easier than expected. Here are some tips and tricks to help you survive your next road excursion with your little one.

Stop Often

It may go without saying, but small children don’t really love being strapped in for long periods of time. This means that while any trick might buy you an hour or so, there aren’t any guarantees that your child can handle 3-4 hours between stops. For this reason, it’s best to plan to stop every hour or two, even if it’s just to get out and stretch your legs. If your child is older, you can play a quick game of Simon Says or sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes a few times to get the wiggles out before climbing back in.

Plan Incentives for When You Have to Strap Back In

You may find that your child is overjoyed to get out at the first rest stop, but less inclined to climb back in 10 minutes later. A family road trip is a hard concept for a small child, and once they are out of that car seat, it’s possible they just won’t want to get back in. Plan a small incentive to help your child transition back to the car after each stop. It may be a small snack, a small new toy, or a video to watch. But whatever it is, be sure you can follow through with your promise, and be sure it isn’t something you’ll need to take away soon (such as: “I’ll let you play on my phone for a few minutes!”). Otherwise, you may end up stuck in the car with a very loud, very unhappy child until your next stop.

Let Sleeping Children Lie

Road trips with children make the schedule go out the window. For this reason, your child who naps like clockwork at home may skip naps, fall asleep at random times, or sleep longer or shorter than is typical. If at all possible, take advantage of the times your child is sleeping and put as many miles behind you as you can. Of course, naps don’t always come at opportune times, so you may need to stop while your child is sleeping. If so, it may be worth making it a longer stop (a meal, for example), since your child may have a much harder time getting back in the car right after being awakened.

Bring Special Toys for the Car

Whether you stock up at the dollar store, the thrift store, or even just borrow from friends, bring a wide range of special new toys for the road. Try not to bring anything with too many parts or that needs much space. Instead, focus on toys that allow your child to fidget and move lots of pieces while holding it in his hands. Toys like pretend cell phones, fidget cubes, and books with buttons that make noise will go a long way. Also, while electronics are not always a great choice for child entertainment, the car is a great place to put on your child’s favorite movie. It will allow you to get a lot more driving in and help him pass the time as well.

Plan for Inconveniences

If you are hoping to make it to your destination in record time, it may be best to reevaluate your travel expectations. Road trips with young children are notoriously unpredictable. It’s possible that all will go as planned. Alternatively, you may deal with deadlocked traffic on any of Atlanta’s regularly congested interstates and find yourself with a screaming child and no way out. If at all possible, plan for every scenario. Pack an abundance of snacks and entertainment. Have a special spot for all of those items you might need (e.g., hand sanitizer, extra wipes, diapers, a change of clothes, bandaids, and pain relievers). While your extra preparation won’t necessarily prevent inconvenience, it will make it far more manageable.

If you are planning to brave a road trip with young children this holiday season, use these simple tips to help keep you sane and get you to your destination. Are you looking for childcare that will support you and your family in your various adventures? Consider Legacy Academy Satellite, on Satellite Boulevard in Duluth. We help every child reach his or her full potential.